Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
Oct 5, 2019 (updated Dec 23, 2019)
Ghosteen, man...I am absolutely stunned. It's fascinating to see that even in the darkest, most devastating, hopeless and troublesome of situations, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. In the case of Nick Cave, the pain endured from the tragic loss of a son remains forever, but learning to love again and seeing the existential beauty of it all is what keeps everything in motion. Not everyone gets that experience. Some people are stuck where they are, cast underneath a dark shadow. Ghosteen is a moment for Nick Cave to recuperate, to reconciliate with his inner spirits and demons. It's the kind of album that stops you in your tracks, leaving you feeling like a whole new, different person than the moment you first walk into it, and it's remarkably beautiful.

That's basically the gist of it, but for such a work of beauty that is Ghosteen, I think it deserves to be talked about in much greater detail, so here's my two cents...

Ever had those little moments where you look at yourself in the mirror? Sometimes, you might just wonder to yourself, "who am I?" "Who is this soul on the other side of my reflection?" "Does it truly understand me?" "How do I speak to it?" We think we understand ourselves really well through general knowledge, but do we actually understand who we truly are? That's something that's been rotting in my mind for a while now, and I can't help to think about it from time to time, espcecially when listening to albums like Ghosteen, that almost goes head-to-head with these thoughts. What is my actual purpose to be living? Who is the soul within me, and what will happen to it when I'm gone? The idea of a soul, a living being that lurks within all of us, remains a mystery for as long as we live. I'd like to say that I'm doing fine mentally and physically, but it's thoughts like these that make me an emotional wreck when I'm alone or in the most random of situations.

Life is precious, a fragile piece within us all. You don't always realize it, but once it's taken away from you, you never get it back. The soul that you see everyday in the reflection of your mirror is something to take good care of and appreciate. Losing someone you loved so dearly is...incredibly painful, to say the least. By taking away the piece of your memory, love and affection of that one person in your life you had your heart out to, you find yourself in a hole, impossible to fill. It's as if a piece of your soul had been taken away, and in such a devastating event, you're now just a lost wandering soul, that no one truly understands. You're trapped, stuck with nowhere to go. It's not the end of your life, but is it the end of the journey? Will you simply be forever buried in overwhelming grief, pain and sorrow? Is it impossible to overcome this giant brick wall that you've hit?

Ghosteen says no. This is not the end. This is merely a new beginning. A chance to redeem your corrupted, devastated soul. A chance to take it slow, to take a moment and recognize the beauty. To move forward, accept and live with the reality, and to find yourself once again in this quickly evolving world that we can call home. You are not the same person as you were before, but that's ok. There are people around you that understand, who can feel the same pain you've gone through. There's a big wound in your chest that you can't get rid of, but the important thing is to protect it, to prevent infection and further suffering.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had left off this new leg of their career with Skeleton Tree back in 2016. What was originally going to be a trilogy of albums starting with Push The Sky Away in 2013, Nick Cave found himself hitting a giant obstacle and crashing down in a roller coaster of emotional and mental wreck after his son met an unexpected fate. Nick Cave was ultimately torn up from his insides. Unable to find a balance and sinking into the lowest point in his life, he finished the Skeleton Tree album, and his words and feelings were more powerful than ever before. Skeleton Tree was an album full of pure, agonizing pain. The kind of pain that sticks around like a cancer, killing you from inside without you always noticing. Beautiful in the wrong ways, it's an album trapped in a cold dark room with no light.

Ghosteen, on the other hand, sets a different mood and tone than its predecessor, but ultimately serves as a thrilling, fantastical, marvellous sequel where the light shines through again. After being trapped in a dark room for years, a ray of light takes you forward into a magical, fantasy-like world. It's a world of inner peace where the soul wanders freely again, in a new world. As for the album itself, the change in direction that Nick Cave takes with Ghosteen is brilliantly executed and put-together, and it's a new avenue that Nick Cave had previously left unexplored. Skeleton Tree had a more drone, rock sound. Meanwhile, the two parts of Ghosteen is a beautiful transition into some dreamy, ethereal, chamber and ambient pop. One side, referred to as "the children" is an intriguing slower side to the Ghosteen concept and sound, with a lot of stunning musical passages and room to breathe. In comparison to Skeleton Tree, Ghosteen, specifically this side of Ghosteen is a lot more meditative, less overwhelming, but equally haunting. Meanwhile, the second side, "the parents" of Ghosteen is a lot more long-winded with more spoken word passages and a noticeable change in the overall atmosphere. It feels more lyrically and soncially dense. In terms of songwriting, his strongest element, Nick Cave continues to deliver comforting and emotionally potent lyricism that could leave you shedding in tears.

Ghosteen serves as a more comforting, stunning and elegant experience in comparison to Skeleton Tree, but it's no less powerful and emotionally crushing. In fact, in some ways, I think Ghosteen is a much more emotionally constructued and impactful record, since it's less about the pain or the loss and more about taking a step into reality and growing as a person/soul. On Skeleton Tree, Nick Cave's vocal performances and delivery were a cry for help filled with pain. On Ghosteen, Nick Cave's cries are, in some way, heartwarming cries. It's the kind of cries where you look up into the sky and scream your lungs out for the spirits to hear. It's as if Nick Cave, through the power of words and music, is communicating to his lost son from afar, that he loves him and everything was going to be fine. Through all of Nick's imperfections as a vocalist, there's something truly stunning on Ghosteen about the little details in his moans, cries and mumbles.

Ghosteen is not just an album, it's a poetic, out-of-world story! There's rarely a moment on Ghosteen that feels out of place or unnecessary. Nearly every piece of the puzzle fits together into a colossal emotional meditation. Every minor detail or moment is a part of the Ghosteen story and feel. It's clear that with every building block, there's always something to look into and digest. It's a carefully crafted musical piece that serves as possibly Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' most immersive, beautiful and powerful album in their discography! It's really something to admire.

"The songs on the first album are the children. The songs on the second album are their parents. Ghosteen is a migrating spirit."
Oct 5, 2019
Oct 5, 2019
why am I crying???? dude, this is probably your best review. damn... I am so happy it got this many likes that quick!!!!
Oct 5, 2019
never has a review ever made me feel this much emotion.
Oct 6, 2019
I envy you, honestly. You and your writing abilities.
Oct 6, 2019
kudos for the longest review on AOTY ever
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